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Teen Health 411

Just Say No To Brazilian Wax

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New Jersey has been getting some extra press lately for proposing to ban Brazilian bikini waxing after two women were hospitalized for infections following the procedure done to remove genital hair. Of course, there is quite a bit of resistance to the ban from businesses that provide the service.

A normal bikini wax removes the hair from mostly the lower abdomen and upper leg area while a Brazilian takes all or most of the genital hair from the front, back, sides, etc... sometimes leaving a small "landing strip" in the front. Genital waxing can be dangerous in that the hot wax can irritate or tear the delicate skin in the bikini area, resulting in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes. The procedure usually lasts about three weeks, but then the hair grows back but needs to be about one quarter inch long before it can be waxed again.

This procedure has been becoming more common, and with younger women, since the late 1990's. I understand that removing hair is popular during the bathing suit season and that as the bikinis have gotten smaller, the smallest being a thong, Brazilian waxes have gotten to be more popular, but gracious, give this some thought.

The idea that removing genital hair is becoming the norm disturbs me on several levels. First, genitals without hair look pre-pubescent, and therefore the "creep" factor for me is big. Second, it is usually the male requesting the process, which is dangerous to the female, who gains very little except a rash and severe itching as the hair comes back. Finally, I think that this is one consequence of the increasing amount of pornography young males are exposed to, where they are exposed to a world where hairless genitals can be common.

Let's be careful - even if you think everyone is doing it (and they are not) - and remember you can always choose to participate or not.
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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